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Chapter one: the art of belonging

Braving the Wilderness, Brene Brown

I am far from a Brene Brown virgin. I’ve read all her books, google searched her podcasts, shared her quotes and stalked her wisdom from my internet cave. However, I was not ready for the undoing that this book has created. I feel like one of my life values and pursuits has been ripped open and shredded and now I am unsure of how to repack it back inside.

The pursuit of belonging;

Of course, we all want to belong. Of course, we want to feel loved, nurtured, valued and seen. Isn’t that the point? Isn’t that at the heart of the human condition.

To be loved and love in return.

I read chapter one and two of “Braving the Wilderness” with gusto, cheering her on from my coffee induced couch and then I put the book down to rest. For a month.

I wasn’t sure if I was ready to get all deep and thoughtful for you here on my blog. But I had committed to our conversation over on our online book club “Mondays with us“. I was trapped.

Then I started to explore the theme of this book…

The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone

It was like the axis of my world shifted. I can’t really explain it, but I sat in my big grey reading chair, on a nondescript Spring afternoon repeating to myself. “It is okay Amanda that you often feel like you don’t belong”. 




But belonging is the ultimate pursuit of happiness, isn’t it?

I have heard people talk about the lonely walk of leadership and nodded my head in serious contemplation but it still never sunk in. I watched people wrestle their identity, unique voice and personality but still, I just thought this was the walk of the uncommon pursuit of authenticity. I have sat and listened to women on my personal retreats, mentoring consults and events, but I just thought that this was the human condition.

No matter how many friends we have, no matter how loved we are, each and every one of us struggle with this pursuit of belonging. And often we are told that belonging, our tribe, our gang, our family, our friends or our community is the pinnacle of a life lived strong.

Do you feel like you often break the rules?
Does friendship disappoint you, leaving you wondering what you are doing wrong?

And the penultimate question…Do you often feel left out, isolated or lonely?

This, my friend, is the art of belonging and we were not designed to arrive. We are in an ever moving state of becoming and we were created with this weird little programming glitch which asks us to keep on moving towards a goal that always seems to change.

To pioneer. To explore. To discover. To unpack. To reveal. To move. To plant. To respond. To expand. To edit. To befriend. To let go.

Since that moment in the corner of my bedroom, I have been trying to refind my internal footing again. It is like the thought, that maybe the pursuit of belonging is not the final quest of a life lived satisfied.

So its okay that I don’t feel like I belong.

It’s alright that I feel alone often in this journey.

What if I have been seeking constantly to fit in, to feel like I am cared for, noticed and belong but it’s not actually the point?

What if I was designed to keep discovering my greater tomorrow and not everyone from my past will understand the journey I compelled to walk?

What if this longing for a tribe was designed not as a destination, but a need for travelling companions that encourage, direct and give companionship to the journey of life?

So here I am once again Brene, cracked open and I have more questions than answers.


Here is my question to you all?

What emotions does the idea of standing alone bring up in you?

In the words of the amazing Dr Maya Angelou;

You are only free when you realize you belong no place- you belong every place- no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.


Here we go.



If you would like to join us on the journey of Braving The Wilderness, you can buy Brene’s latest book through Book Depository with free shipping here, and you can join us over at our private facebook group Mondays with us here. Happy reading friends.

8 thoughts on “Chapter one: the art of belonging

  1. I am so with you on this one Amanda, it’s been my soul cry for most of this year, asking God to help me understand where I fit. How to fit with his unique stamp that clearly he’s given me for a purpose when I so often feel like I don’t fit. I’ve wrestled with all of these questions and they only lead to more.
    I found Maya’s quote really puzzling at first and super challenging realising that there is a whole new layer of understanding belonging that might begin to make sense in the wrestle.
    The concept of standing alone stirs up the feeling of dread that there is a journey of discovery ahead of me that’s going to be challenging and soul searching that will likely pull down the ideas of what I think belonging is.
    As much as I don’t like the concept, I’m also curious to explore it as well because I suspect the answers to the struggles lie within that. Here’s to standing on the cliff edge and fearfully peeking over.

  2. I know what it’s like to walk in the ‘belonging-in-no-place-space.

    I have friends, but I’ve never been in the cool group.

    I was sporty, but never fairest and best.

    I not obese, but I’m stocky and lumpy, and don’t walk around in my bathers at the beach.

    I have wacky, strange perspectives on things, but other people seem to nail expressing their thoughts and people get them.

    In my outer world, I may seem to fit in, but that’s not how I feel.

    Dr Maya Angelou;
    You are only free when you realize you belong no place- you belong every place- no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.

    I’m learning to find freedom in casting off the judgement I place on myself.

    I’m learning to find freedom in realizing I belong in the space I occupy.

    I’m learning to find freedom in realising that I don’t belong in some spaces.

    I’m learning to find freedom in accepting the cost of being who I am.

    I’m learning to find reward in learning the subtle art of just being who I am.

    Belonging? Belonging to yourself first will enable you to find your tribe. It will be small, it will be wacky, it will be the place you find home.

    1. ??????

      1. what does that mean ha ha ha

  3. I am so excited about this book although I am still awaiting my delivery ? thank you for sharing your thoughts on your journey of thought after reading chapter one.
    Yes, I can certainly relate to that feeling and the need to belong. I love people and I don’t like being or doing alone.
    I have always felt oddly out of place amongst others and more often these past years as a South-African who has made Perth her home. I have tried to accept the fact that I will probably never feel at home here completely… I will probably never fit in and that’s okay.
    Can’t wait to read and think more on her words when I read myself.

  4. Quite frankly the idea of standing alone scares me.

    It takes me back to that feeling of being a new kid in a new school, with no friends, and I don’t like it. It brings with it associated feelings of pain and shame.

    But I love the point you make … “What if this longing for a tribe was designed not as a destination, but a need for travelling companions that encourage, direct and give companionship to the journey of life?”

    When I see my tribe not as a destination, not as, “Aha! I’ve found my tribe.” But rather as companions, “I am travelling into unknown territory and my tribe are supporting me”, these emotions go away.

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